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Friday, 20 January 2012

SOPA/PIPA gone for good?

As I write this, within the hour, the SOPA and PIPA bills have supposedly been "killed". To those thinking it's gone for good, the truth is that it has been "shelved indefinitely". Many different news websites and blogs may tell you otherwise, but as stated by Senate majority leader Harry Reid, the bill will be "postponed". Despite this, there is widespread belief that the bill is gone for good, and the internet is safe. But how sure of that can we be?

In recent weeks, the SOPA/PIPA bills have recieved a staggering amount of backlash and attention, more of my fellow students have posted their feelings about the bill on Facebook (which I found to be a good opportunity to share the blog article I wrote last month to inform more people), and have even threatend to riot if the bill is passed - an exaggeration we can all be sure of. Of course their parents won't be taking them to London to aid them in their 10-manned attempts of making a point. But the rages of teenagers are besides the point I wish to make today.

Actually, staying on the topic of raging teengers, hacktivist group "Anonymous", which for those who don't know is a group of internet hackers who attempt to bring down websites and organisations they don't agree with. Oh, they also like to appear as threatening as possible by using robotic voices in their video messages and wearing V for Vendetta masks at their public protests. Much of the internet supports Anonymous due to their motives as people who "speak for the internet", but many also see Anonymous as a bit of a joke, sometimes making threats which they can't even fulfill, and whose melodrama can make them seem almost embarassingly pathetic. However, after the deletion of popular filesharing website "Megauploads", Anonymous was able to momentarily bring down the US Governments website, while continuing to preach their message of internet users to "stand together" in the battle. Rightfully so, there has been much praise for the hacktivist group.

Those who know about the SOPA/PIPA bills also know about the fact that websites that have any kind of "copyrighted material" on their websites, will be taken down. On the 18th of Jan, websites such as Explosm, Minecraft, Reddit, and Mozilla did "Blackout protests", where users would find a message informing them of the SOPA/PIPA bills policies, instead of gaining any access to inside the website. A special mention goes to Wikipedia, where their blackout message was seen by 1.8million people, giving users more knowledge of the bills policies. The blackout was considered a huge success - a substantial amount of supporters for the bill backed down, and many believed that SOPA/PIPA were dead. But celebrations were short lived when the following day, "Megauploads", home to millions of music videos, tv shows, and downloadable files, was deleted by the US government. Naturally, rage and panic surged through the internet. Anonymous declared themselves as "no longer playing nice", and this was proved when they bought down the US governments website, while internet users realised that SOPA/PIPA was not down yet, and many others also realised that even though the bill hadn't yet passed, the government still had the power to take down websites for exaggerated copyright claims.

The deletion of Megauploads has been a hot topic since this morning, yet earlier this evening, there was the announcment that SOPA/PIPA had been shelved indefinitely. As this was big news, everyone seemed to interprete this in their own way. Many shared their belief that SOPA/PIPA were gone forever, and that this was a victory for the internet, however as stated earlier, this hopeful assumption is just not true.

Now, while SOPA/PIPA being shelved is certainly a brilliant step forward, we should all know that the battle is not over yet. It's been shelved indefinitely - it is not gone for good. Internet users should still keep a look out and be prepared - there is no way of knowing when the bills may come back. There have been rumours that the government may be able to make another version of the bills that both sides can agree on. But let's be realistic here - the government and the public can't agree on anything, and with any version of the bills created, there will be an aspect that people will be able to pick out, and thus the arguments shall rage on.

As previously mentioned, we can all take a sigh of relief for now. But remember this, it's not yet over. Keep knowledge of the bills and be prepared for any kind of mention that the bills may come back. We must make it known that we have not forgotten about the bills, and that we do not believe that it's gone for good. The government must know that we do not agree with this bill, and we do not want to see it passed. Carry on spreading your message, and be ready.